U.S., Qatar Sign MoU on Al-Udeid Air Base Expansion
(Source: Xinhua; issued Jan 14, 2019)
DOHA --- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Sunday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the expansion and renovation of Al-Udeid Air Base.
Al-Udeid, which is considered the largest U.S. base in the Middle East, hosts around 10,000 U.S. troops and scores of U.S. combat and supporting aircraft.
In a joint press conference, Pompeo said: "We're all more powerful when we're working together. Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful."
He was referring to the boycott imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.
Earlier this month, Anthony Zinni, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, resigned as special envoy to resolve the dispute.
"The departure of Mr. Zinni in no way reflects any change in America's Middle East efforts, our strategy or our ongoing commitment to the region," Pompeo said. "It was a time for change. He made this decision to move on, but America's commitment remains unchanged."
Joint Statement of the Second United States-Qatar Strategic Dialogue
(Source: Defense-Aerospace.com; posted Jan 14, 2019)
PARIS --- Below are the paragraphs of the Joint Statement of the Second United States-Qatar Strategic Dialogue: Forward Together, issued January 13, 2019 by the U.S. State Department.
The full statement is available here
Qatar and the United States emphasized the vital contribution their defense partnership provides for the security and stability of the region. This strong and lasting partnership is key to successfully combating terrorism, countering violent extremism, and deterring external aggression. U.S. officials lauded Qatar’s contributions in supporting the strategic U.S. military presence in Qatar under the U.S. Central Command.
Chairman of Military Cooperation Authority Brigadier General (Pilot) Fahad Al-Sulaiti, and U.S. Principal Director for Middle East Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense Jennifer Zakriski participated in sessions on defense cooperation. The two governments reaffirmed their commitment to the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation to promote peace and stability and counter the scourge of terrorism. The United States welcomed Qatar’s generous offer to expand critical facilities at bases used by U.S. forces in the country and to align operating procedures at these bases with NATO standards, thereby increasing the operational capability of U.S. and coalition forces based in Qatar.
The U.S. and Qatar signed an MOU enabling deeper coordination on potential expansion at Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar’s offers to fund capital expenditures and sustainment affords the possibility of a more enduring U.S. presence.
Both countries noted the recent expansion of the bilateral maritime partnership, including the visit by the largest U.S. naval ship to ever come to Qatar in October 2018. Qatar’s Navy and Coast Guard represent the largest maritime contribution in the 33-nation Combined Maritime Force (CMF) Task Force-152 led by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and continue to be high value partners and members. These missions increase regional security by providing a visible presence and deterrent to maritime crime in the Arabian Gulf.
The two governments discussed the $26 billion Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program that currently exists between the United States and Qatar. Qatar highlighted the continued opportunity for U.S. partnership in developing Qatar’s Expeditionary Amphibious Capability, Joint Special Forces expansion, as well as an improved ability to defend against external aggression and to better operate alongside U.S. and NATO military forces in coalition operations. In 2018, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps hosted a Qatar Naval delegation to the United States to showcase U.S. expeditionary amphibious operations, and both nations conducted amphibious exercise Eastern Maverick for the first time since 2012.
The two governments acknowledged their strong and lasting bilateral security partnership, and look forward to further discussions on the possibility of more enduring basing.